With COVID-19 back up and many professionals in unvaccinated nursing homes, families still do not have easy access to crucial Medicare vaccination data that will help them choose the right facility for their loved one.
Medicare has one Care Compare website for consumers it has spent years refining itself. But this is not where the agency publishes vaccination numbers for residents and individual nursing home staff. Instead, Medicare relies on one COVID-19 data page aimed at researchers. One way to navigate is to scroll through a map to find small red dots that represent residences for the elderly. There is also a huge spreadsheet. It doesn’t look particularly easy to use.
“Achieving this in‘ Comparing Nursing Homes ’is very important,” said David Grabowski, a Harvard health policy professor who has researched the impact of the pandemic on nursing homes. “Having him buried in a spreadsheet is really frustrating.”
Access to the figures is crucial because there are big differences between nursing homes and nursing homes when it comes to vaccinating.
Grabowski’s analysis of Medicare data indicates that nationwide, approximately 78% of residents and 56% of staff completed vaccinations as of the week ending June 20.
Statistics released by Medicare reveal large disparities between states. In Alaska, 91% of residents are vaccinated, but in Florida 69%. In Hawaii, 82% of employees are vaccinated, but in New York 62% and in Louisiana, 42%. Staff vaccination rates are important, as infected employees may inadvertently take the virus to a nursing home. at home before they develop symptoms.
Within states, there can be large differences between counties and even between nursing homes in the same community, said Terry Fulmer, president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, which works to improve care for older adults.
“We now have a Delta variant and we could have an increase,” Fulmer said. “My concern is that residents will die and staff will die, and it could have been avoided.”
The main Medicare agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, acknowledged in a statement that it has work to do. “We are focused on making this data easier to navigate and easy to consume,” the agency said.
But the agency stopped pledging to post residency vaccination rates on its Care Compare site. Instead, he pledged to improve the data site and a spokesman said CMS will listen to the recommendations.
Medicare noted that its planned improvements include highlighting vaccination rates for nursing homes on “various” websites and adding a snapshot of vaccination rates to all facilities on the COVID data page. 19 of the residence. It also plans to “improve functionality so that consumers can more easily identify vaccination rates for residents and staff of an individual facility and compare rates between facilities.”
The agency did not give any deadline, noting that vaccination data have only been available for just over a month.
Nursing homes have suffered the brunt of the pandemic over the past year, but cases and deaths have fallen since vaccines became available. This has fostered a false sense of security, said Charlene Harrington, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing.
“Once vaccines were started and rates went down, I think the administration forgot about residences,” Harrington said. “So they really have to get over the situation.”
Consumer advocates say they are concerned that bureaucratic inertia will make it harder for Medicare to change course.
“This data should be easily accessible to people, not just left in a big file on their website,” said Sam Brooks of Consumer Voice, a national advocacy group for quality care in long term. “It’s ridiculous that people have to work so hard.”
Medicare already provides information on flu and pneumonia vaccination rates for individual residences on its Care Compare website. The two main groups in the nursing home industry say they have no objection to handling COVID-19 vaccination rates in the same way.
“Care Compare is the website for the public and the information has to be there,” said Toby Edelman, who oversees the center’s residences for the advocacy of nonprofit health care. “If they want it to be somewhere else, they have to communicate it to people. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
While some states require nursing homes to post vaccination rates, there are no national requirements. Some nursing homes require staff to be vaccinated, but most depend on persuasion.
Harrington nursing school teacher said she would like to see vaccination rates at 90% for both residents of nursing homes and staff.
“I would not recommend that any consumer go to a facility with a low vaccination rate,” he said.
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Citation: As COVID increases, an annoying hunt for vaccine statistics for the nursing home (2021, July 14) on July 15, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news /2021-07-covid-nursing-home-vaccine-stats.html
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